Valves wear out over time. They break, lock up, leak, or even fall off. Repairing a problematic valve helps for a while, but eventually, you’ll want to replace it. The hardest thing about replacing a shutoff valve is knowing where to start.
Luckily, that’s what we’re here for. Replacing a shutoff valve is more complex than many DIY plumbing projects, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. All you need are the right tools, the right directions, and a little patience. We can supply the right directions. Here’s our in-depth, step-by-step guide to replacing your worn out shutoff valve. Follow these directions and you’ll fix your valve in just under an hour.
Step One: determine the valve’s connection style
Shutoff valves connect to pipes in one of two different ways. Either they’re a compression fitting or a sweat fitting. Compression fittings have threaded ends with attached nuts, while sweat fittings have non-threaded joints. Compression fitting uses a plastic ring to compress around the pipe and joint, forming a seal. Sweat fittings are soldered together, fusing the pipe and joint together permanently.
Once you’ve figured out the connection type, measure the incoming pipe connecting to the valve. Buy a replacement quarter-turn shutoff ball valve that matches that size.
Step Two: Prepare for the replacement
Turn off the water at your main shutoff valve. If your water heater is gas-powered, be sure to flip the switch into the pilot position. If your water heater is electric, shut off the circuit breakers. Make sure to completely shut off and drain the water inside your home before you switch out the valve.
Step 3: Open faucets at the top and bottom levels of your home
This step allows gravity to empty out any remaining water currently sitting in the pipes. Draining all that water can take up to an hour. Wait until no water comes out of your open faucets whatsoever before you proceed. Open and close some other faucets a couple times just to double check.
Step 4: switching out the valve itself
- If it’s a compression shutoff valve, you’ll have to use a hacksaw to cut through the sleeve at an angle. Stop cutting before you hit copper and do it at an angle. Twist the sleeve until you’ve broken it.
You can do this with help of a flat-blade screwdriver. Once the sleeve is broken, you’ll be able to slide it off along with the old compression nut. Position a new compression sleeve onto the copper tubing and screw on your new valve.
- If it is a sweat valve, you’ll just need a pliers to loosen the packing nut and unscrew the entirety of the valve stem. Remove the old washer. Drape the frame with a protection cloth and secure it to the wall. Get a soldering torch, adjust it to its smallest flame, and melt the solder until you can pull the valve out.
- Use a leather glove and a damp rag to hold on and pull it out. Use the rag to wipe away excess solder. Clean everything off and then slide the new sweat valve onto the tubing. Heat it just enough to draw in extra solder, then let it cool and seal.
There you have it: replacing a shutoff valve. If this process sounds complicated to you, that’s because it is. If you ever want some help replacing your shutoff valve, never hesitate to call in the pros.
Ben Franklin can perform shutoff valve replacement or any other plumbing task you need accomplished. Just give us a call whenever you need plumbers you can count on.